The Hoosierist Offers A Ray Of Hope On Solar Power

Sun harnessing, pace car training, and morel farming. Ask the Hoosierist.

May 2017Add a comment

Q: I’m thinking about putting solar panels on my roof. Does Indiana have enough sunshine to keep the system running year round?
A: While not as sun-kissed as, say, Arizona, Indiana nevertheless catches enough rays to make home solar doable. It’s not exactly cheap. A deluxe rooftop setup producing 1,500 kilowatt hours of electricity annually could cost you $40,000. But with new battery storage systems coming online, you can save the juice generated during the day (the only time solar works, because duh) for night use. Which means that if (when) the apocalypse strikes, all of your non-solar neighbors will ask to charge their phones at your place.

Q: I like morel mushrooms, but I don’t want to hunt for them in the woods. Is it possible to grow them?
A: The Hoosierist, who has found exactly one wild morel in his entire life, was at first intrigued by the idea of home cultivation—until he learned morel farming is even more work than hunting the delicacies. Without going into the boring details (of which there are plenty), let’s just say that growing these fungi takes more patience than the typical Hoosier (or Buddhist monk) possesses. For instance, you can’t just drive to the garden center for seeds, because mushrooms reproduce via microscopic spores. Obtaining them generally requires a “slurry” of ground-up morels, water, sugar, and other ingredients. You then dump this glop on laboriously prepared soil (another long story) and wait. It can take years for the first batch of morels to sprout, if it happens at all. Just buy them fresh in-season. While store-bought morels are more expensive than those in the woods, they’re also a lot less bother.

Q: What kind of training do Indy 500 pace car drivers get?
A: Apparently, they get enough, because they don’t cause a lot of pileups. In fact, the only time a pace car driver really screwed up was in 1971, when an orange Dodge Challenger driven by the owner of a local Dodge dealership got squirrelly while pulling into the pits and took out the photographers’ stand. No one died, but it could have been much worse, given that the pace car’s passengers included John “First American in Orbit” Glenn, Chris “Famous Sportscaster” Schenkel, and Tony “I Own the Track” Hulman Jr. To avoid a repeat of such unpleasantness, celebrity drivers have been vetted since the mid-’90s by three-time 500 winner Johnny Rutherford. Lone Star JR familiarizes them with their vehicle, the track, and various race-day procedures (including, we assume, the importance of not hitting the photographers’ stand). No one has kissed the concrete since ’71.

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